Calls for Chapter VII show ‘lack of understanding’: Lavrov

The first divisions have appeared in the Geneva agreement on Syrian chemical disarmament as Russia dismissed calls for a swift U.N. resolution threatening punitive measures against Damascus.

The spat focused on the timing of a resolution under chapter VII of the U.N. charter, which includes enforcement measures such as the possible use of military action to bolster a Security Council decision. The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said calls for an immediate chapter VII resolution showed a “lack of understanding” of Saturday’s Geneva agreement with the U.S. about the process of declaring, inspecting and dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons.

Any resolution this week cannot include chapter VII, Mr. Lavrov insisted. “I am certain that despite the statements we are hearing from certain European capitals, the American side will firmly adhere to what was agreed,” the Russian Foreign Minister said.

He was reacting to reports from a meeting in Paris between the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry; the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius; and the U.K. Foreign Secretary, William Hague, who declared themselves united behind a tough U.N. resolution to put the Geneva agreement into practice.

“We want concrete, verifiable acts and all options must stay on the table if these are not done,” Mr. Fabius said. Mr. Hague added: “A resolution, in our view, should create a binding commitment for the regime to give up its chemical weapons within a specific time frame...”

However, despite the robust rhetoric, neither Mr. Fabius nor Mr. Hague specifically called for a chapter VII resolution.

The Geneva agreement leaves some room for debate on when such a resolution should be forthcoming. It calls for a Security Council resolution to be passed laying out a plan for Syrian disarmament which would include regular reviews. It says in the event of non-compliance “the U.N. Security Council should impose measures under chapter VII of the U.N. charter”.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2013

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